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Contrarian view: Why Piku's feminist narrative is flawed

Piku has received rave reviews for its modern portrayal of contemporary life. But is Piku really as 'fiercely independent' as she is made out to be? Few reasons why Piku is a privileged woman and can afford to be 'Piku Banerjee'.

bollywood Updated: May 13, 2015 11:08 IST
Nivedita Mishra
Nivedita Mishra
Hindustan Times
Piku,Deepika Padukone,Amitabh Bachchan

First the positives about Piku--what an original screenplay and how engaging a content with so little drama! Trust Juhi Chaturvedi and Shoojit Sircar to come up with a refreshingly new story after Vicky Donor. With credible performances, Piku is definitely on its way to becoming a hit. Even the dialogues seem to come straight out of our daily lives. But, in effect, this remains a very upper middle-class urban life tale.

The film has received rave reviews for its modern and feminist portrayal of contemporary life. But is Piku really as 'fiercely independent' as she is made out to be? Few reasons why Piku is a privileged woman and can afford to be 'Piku Banerjee'.

Piku review: Drama-less and endearing, Deepika-Amitabh starrer is a must watch!

Independent, really?
Piku is introduced to us as a young independent woman living in South Delhi's CR Park. It's quite obvious that she is a privileged South Delhi girl from an upper middle class Bengali family. For a woman like that, isn't it easy being 'fiercely independent'? Does she ever have to travel in public transport (auto, DTC bus, for instance) to know what it feels to be at the receiving end of a lecher and groped by a man? Would Piku ever go house-hunting in any of the many nagars that dot the city, for instance, and expect to be told bluntly -- no boyfriends allowed, no late nights? Why, even the house she lives in is her father's. Living in a semi feudal Delhi without the cushion of wealth and the privileges can be a totally different story.

All those benign men...
Piku has some luck -- how is it that she is surrounded by such benign and forever acquiescing men? Her friend and partner in the ad firm she works in, played by Bengali actor Jisshu Sengupta, is almost an apologetic co-worker. Irrfan, with whom she eventually falls in love, is no lame duck but he too gives in every now and then. Hasn't this 'dil ki burri nahin hai' bit been stretched? And her uncle (kaku in Kolkata) -- what an apology of a character!

The only man who actually gives her the most trying time of her life is her father. Come to think of it, Amitabh Bachchan's Bhaskor Banerjee is the real 'feminist' in the film -- he isn't against his daughter marrying; he detests the idea of her 'surrendering' her aspirations at the altar. And that's his belief for all of womankind -- doesn't he admonish his sister-in-law in Kolkata for tamely giving in to family demands and leaving her job?

What is this canard of single-handedly managing a home?
This writer recalls reading in one of the many reviews how Piku Banerjee manages a home and job with admirable ease. Seriously? With a full-time 'man-maid' at the beck and call of the senior Banerjee and with a housemaid (well, one who does leave during the course of the film though), life can't be that difficult, can it?

Without a support system, life in 'unforgiving' Delhi can be tough for a middle-class girl. And Piku wouldn't know it and this is romantic cinema, after all!

First Published: May 11, 2015 15:51 IST